**2012 PRESIDENT ANNUAL REPORT**
Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria inc
2012 PRESIDENT ANNUAL REPORT
The year 2011 – 2012 has again been a significant one for the RHSV.
The Society is continuing to expand its areas of influence and to regain its previous stature.
The services the Royal is providing to the affiliates, its members and the community is expanding to fill needs that have been unfilled for many years. It has a long way to go but it is all positive.
Horticulture is as alive in the community as ever.
A change of emphasis is evident as the very public face of horticulture is the environment and self-sufficiency. The health of the planet and the health of the individual is a prime concern. Many schools are introducing children to gardening through programs where they grow the vegetables and then prepare and eat them. This has long lasting benefits as it sets a whole generation into a lifetime of gardening. It may not surface for many years but it will. As soon as the child of today becomes the parent of tomorrow they will go for the shovel and get gardening. They will do it for their children and themselves.
To survive horticultural organizations need adapt to the new interest and to meet the needs of the new generation.
Gardening groups provide significant social service in many communities. They provide opportunities for people to socialize, keep mentally alert and provide significant public service through their activities. Gardening groups do many community works and combined together they produce often vital civic services. In an age where the community is ageing gardening is a major outlet for the population.
Thus we have the challenge. To survive, the Royal and its Affiliates must be in the forefront of this wave. How is the question?
Amateur Horticulture expects the Royal to provide leadership and a central focal point around which to gather. This was evident with the reaction to the recent disasters. In response the RHSV established a Horticultural Disaster Relief Fund to assist the affected areas to recover. This developed into a national fund as we now have support from many interstate groups. Following the floods in Victoria we have contributed to relief activities coordinated by the Royal’s North Western Region. The fund will continue to operate for several years as it will take a long time for things to be initiated and finalized. It is a big task to take on and only the RHSV could do it in Victoria.
There are many other ways the Royal could take a leadership role and this will progressively occur when the need and the resources are available.
Individual and family membership has increased and this reflects the continuing value of the Royal to gardeners. Promotions and an improved magazine have helped significantly. The Great Victorian Hanging Basket Competition continues to grow and attract new members. It is wonderful value for the entrant and provides the Royal with a “Display” at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.
Affiliate membership has also increased. Many new groups have joined we are expanding into areas where the Royal has not been for many years. This can be traced back to improved communications and recognition by the various groups that the Royal does have something to offer. The magazine, the web site and just good old better communication through items such as the Secretary’s News Sheet, snail mail and E-mail has brought us all closer together. It is necessary for the RHSV to continue to expand the benefits that it can provide to its membership.
The Regional Groups are continuing to support their members and the RHSV.
A significant development has been the desire to develop more Regions and thus expand the benefits of the process as well as improving overall communications. This can only benefit the RHSV in its activities. It is a feature of our activities that we can only operate within the resources we have available. The RHSV gratefully appreciates the management activities of the Regional Committees as without them they would not operate. Development of Regions in areas where we were once strong is a vision but limited by resources. Hopefully regions covering the Mornington Peninsula, the Ballarat area will be renewed. We will keep trying for this.
Though primarily a Victorian body the RHSV has many interstate members.
The value of our membership is expanding. The insurance scheme we facilitate is widely used by horticultural groups throughout Australia.
Our web site and magazine issues contain information on the interstate activities.
We are investigating ways that we can add more value to their membership. Though not Victorian groups we value and welcome them.
The value of services provided by the Royal to its members and affiliates has again been increased and improved.
The insurance scheme is a critical element in the service to its affiliates. The Public Liability Insurance has a $20 mill. limit and we have now added additional value and cover by adding Volunteer Workers Insurance. This has happened through persistent good work by the society in sourcing such services.
The Web Site is now a critical element in our organization and we are continually developing it to provide information and services to all. Many of our groups have their own web sites. For a group to have good contact with its potential membership base a web site is required.
Through the web site the RHSV is developing more services. The “What’s On” segment now has the best, most up to date listing of shows and gardening events. It is being widely used as a promotional tool by our groups. The Garden rambles is a listing of gardens open for viewing and is a wider listing than available elsewhere. Already we have had good response to it. The “Speakers Data Base” has been established is now widely used by our members to organize speakers for their meetings. It is continually developing.
We are continually assessing and developing new ways we can maximize the use of the web site and e-mail for our membership benefit. A factor often beyond our control in this is the reluctance of many of our affiliates to join the electronic age and use the web.
The medals, awards, show items etc. are continuing to be popular. Nine John Pascoe Fawner medals have been awarded this year for service to horticulture. The SS McKay medals are extremely popular. The Royal trophy has been reconfigured and is now a sort after award for Affiliate shows and competitions.
The Gardeners Gazette continues to develop and be a resounding success. Acceptance of the publication has been universally acclaimed. It now has the potential to act as a driving force to promote the RHSV, raise our image and act as a credible means to have impact on horticulture.
The number of pages has increased and advertising has increased. An interesting development has been the use of full pages by affiliates to promote their events. We are investigating further developments that we are sure will set it up as a significant horticultural journal for many years to come.
The RHSV is increasingly going out into the community for promotional activities.
The Royal has significant input into the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show in the Exhibition Hall and Carlton Gardens. The Royal is there to promote amateur horticulture and primarily its affiliates. We have a significant display outside with the Great Victorian Hanging Basket Competition. This year we had nearly 280 basket entries. Overall the response from the public, industry, sponsors and the public was very good. The event is continuing to grow in size and effect. A feature of the event is the contribution of volunteers from many affiliate groups to man and operate the event. Inside the main Exhibition Hall the Royal and many affiliates provided a large and extremely successful display. The site was at the eastern end of the top floor. This is a great site and allows an improved ability to promote amateur horticulture. It was the best internal display for many years, again supported by positive comments from the public, industry, event organizers and participants. Particularly the partnership with our affiliates is heartening.
Together the inside and outside displays makes the Royal one of the largest exhibitors at the event.
The Royal also provides the coveted Comeadow Award for the Melbourne Flower Show and judged the entrants in the relevant sections. This award provides us with standing and prominence at the event.
Through this and other events we have had great success in increasing the profile of the Society and increasing membership for the RHSV as well as the affiliated groups.
The Conference in June held at the Mt Waverley Community Centre again achieved new levels of success. The morning session featured presentations by the Country Fire Authority on landscaping in Fire Areas and Dr Greg Moore presented on Trees in the Landscape. The afternoon session featured Stephanie Alexander on gardening with Children. All were extremely well received and enjoyed by all. An increased number of vendors were invited to sell products at this year’s event. The aim was to provide an opportunity for those attending to have access to plants and products that they were generally not able to get to. Stalls were provided by specialist societies and specialist growers. This was a great success with a great response from those attending. It offers another reason to attend the conference. A light lunch provided, a great goody bag and great company made it a wonderful day
The number of those attending may necessitate a move to a larger venue.
Our history is our heritage. The Royal has a long and distinguished history but has a limited amount of archival material. We are trying to seek out any information that we can find about the Royal and store it in a safe place. It is essential that we gain as much information as we can now as it is not going to get easier later on. Thus we are actively pursuing any opportunity we can to learn more about our past. The ultimate aim is to produce an accurate history of the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria and Amateur Horticulture in general. The Royal’s story is parallel and interwoven with the many gardening groups, past & present in Victoria.
Financial – Management
The RHSV is a non-profit organization. Consequently it is not a primary objective to make significant profit. The Royal has been active and increased costs have occurred. Changing factors with the basket competition has caused many of the expenses to come back to the Royal. Industry financial support is very hard to get.
Despite this the RHSV is a strong financially. Continuing losses must be curtailed by seeking and developing existing and new funding’s from industry, government and RHSV promotional activities.
As the Royal progresses and develops increasing demands will come on it financially.
The scope of the organization is continually being widened and to meet these demands is requiring significant expenditure. It is obvious that as the Royal develops into new areas of horticulture it will expand beyond a simple garden club structure.
The financial management of the society is now computer based. This requires skills to do this. As the society develops more professional support will be required.
To progress beyond a simple garden club and realize the potential that the Royal has will require this progression. The Royal has been down this path several times. We must learn from previous mistakes and develop a structure and organization that keeps us true to our aims and objectives without suffering the pitfalls of the past. This perhaps is the main challenge facing us.
The RHSV has a verygood relationship with many industry and non-government organizations. The Royal is seen as a positive organization that is useful to work with.
This support has enabled us to participate at a venue as the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show. The sponsorship that such organizations can provide financially or in kind is essential for us to continue to deliver quality presentations. Without the Multi Crop’s, Debco’s, Scotsburn Nurseries, Gardman (Brunnings) Baskets, Plants Plus, Neutrog, Amgrow, Seasol, Bosistos, NGIV, Garden World -Keysborough, Collectors Corner, Poyntons the IMG organization and the many others that support us we would find it difficult to manage some activities. Support is not given lightly by industry and it does show that the RHSV does have a good standing within the industry. To represent the amateur horticulturalist the RHSV must continue to develop its standing within the Horticultural community.
The Executive Committee of the Royal is a very hard working group. Without them it would not exist. The Committee is the operational “heart” of the Royal and it is amazing how such a small committee create so much. Every member has their specific interests and activities. Together they create a tight and productive team.
The RHSV Executive Committee for the period 2011 -2012 was:
PATRON JANE EDMANSON OAM
PRESIDENT DON RICKERBY
VICE PRESIDENT ELSIE CARTER
VICE PRESIDENT PAT INSALL
TREASURER DIANNE SHARMAN
SECRETARY JENNIFER RICKERBY
COMMITTEE MAUREEN LUCAS
BRIAN LE PLASTRIER
All members are to be especially thanked for their work and support. It is most valued and appreciated. This year we will strengthen the committee when Kevin Monaghetti joins us. Kevin has been a long, active supporter of the Royal. His great experience will be an invaluable resource for us.
The RHSV IS at the start of an eventful path that WILL see it as the foremost Horticultural Organization in Australia. Of this I am sure. It will get there through the input of similar individuals that have enabled it to reach 160 + years in existence. However for the RHSV to develop beyond the current committee’s resources we need the support of more individuals and our affiliates.
Consequently we need to review, rationalize, and develop what we do and how we do it. It has always been the path we must follow and always will be.
Don Rickerby – President RHSV 2011-2012
6th August 2012